Fun easy to use leveled math app that encouraged my son to practice his math skills
What we’d love to see…
ability to test out of content your child may already be familiar with, ability to turn off the sound affects within the app
I am looking forward to continuing to use the app with my son for his remaining homework assignments before school lets out and during the summer for part of his screen time to ensure that he stays on track with his math skills.
Zap Zap Math – K6 Math Games by Visual Math Interactive Sdn. Bhd. is a universal app for iOS that focuses on #commoncore math skills. The free app with gated in-app purchases (IAP) includes content for children from kindergarten through sixth grade to learn, master and be quizzed on math materials using games. The app itself contains over 150 games and over 180 math subtopics and is common core aligned to the Ontario Curriculum for Mathematics. For purposes of the review, I was given a full user ID and tested using second grade material since that is the grade my older son is in. The premium subscription is $9.99 USD and is charged on an annual basis. For those that purchase the full subscription there is also a web-based dashboard so you can check on your child’s progress.
Skills practiced within the app include: Addition, Subtraction, Fractions, Ratios, Multiplication, Geometry, Coordinates, Measurements, Angles, Time. Each “year” within the app is a full school year’s worth of content which is fantastic for home practice during homework time, for homeschooling families or simply to prevent the “summer slide”.
Within the app, there are four different skill areas to use: training, accuracy, speed, mission. There is no spoken language contained within the app, but there are written directions as well as video tutorials to show you what to do for each of the mini games. After completing problems correctly, the words “good job” or stars are flashed on the screen. After taking the quiz, you are shown the results of your work as well as given a time bonus (if completed faster than allowed) to give you a total score.
Training – this is the area where your child learns the skill and gets a tutorial about how to do it.
Accuracy – your child uses the skill to answer questions faster and more accurately
Speed Building – the skill itself is learned and now the focus is on completing the task in a faster manner
Mission – this brings all the pieces together when you rocket into outer space with a fun mini game
One of the things we liked was that there was a tutorial for each type of game. This made sure we understood how to play it because it included step by step directions and a sample problem for you to complete. My son in particular enjoyed the hive game as he had to connect different equations together to complete the problem. At the end of each mission, you see your accuracy and score as well as a number of “Z” coins which are in app currency to purchase items. We also liked the wide variety of games and frankly the huge amount of free content available to users without purchasing a subscription. This app really allowed you to “try before you buy”.
In terms of enhancements, it would be nice if there were a way to “test” out of content. My son was familiar in some cases with the content and kept telling me how “boring” it was to have to relearn a skill that he already knew. I also would like to be able to turn off the background sound within the app, my son found the ticking and various noises distracting so we ended up muting our device, but it would be nice if there was an easier way to do it. I’d also like a collaboration space, my son’s math curriculum is very visually based and several times he actually wanted to use the number line or draw out the math problem. You can see the number line in the training mode, but you can’t manipulate it which was something he requested. I would also like to see a parent gated area that contains the rating as well as a way to see the dashboard from my device in a future release.
Above is a screenshot of a sample dashboard that shows what skills each student is practicing along with accuracy, amount of time played, number of attempts. You can also click through to get a more detailed report.
I am looking forward to continuing to use the app with my son for his remaining homework assignments before school lets out and during the summer for part of his screen time to ensure that he stays on track with his math skills. This is a great app to try and see if it works for your family, the $9.99 in app purchase/annually seems affordable for the amount of content contained within the app. There are external links, however, they are parental gated.
NOTE: A fee was received to expedite this review to the top of our waiting list but this payment has not influenced the objectivity of the review and all opinions have been offered honestly.The links in this post may contain affiliate links where The iMums will receive a small commission if you make a purchase after clicking on our link, this helps to support the costs of running this site and we appreciate your support.
Alison, the American iMum is from Massachusetts. She lives there with her sons and husband. In their spare time, they enjoy playing outside, enjoying nature and of course testing apps and fantastic products on their devices. They have a variety of devices including an iPad, iPhone, and an iPod and is often found with a device! My older son loves technology and loves testing out the “latest and newest” apps and tech. I love sharing information about apps and products with others to help them make decisions without feeling overwhelmed with all of the choices.
Kids can suit up and learn great facts about being an astronaut, rockets, shuttles, space stations, the solar system, the universe and get involved using the many interactive points through each learning section.
In the rocket section, they can experience a rocket propulsion, a lunar module taking off, put parts of rockets together or create their own countdown! I know I’ve always wanted to do that!
In the shuttle section, kids can learn about satellites, be a shuttle pilot and play with rockets. In the space station section, they can have fun finding out about how astronauts live on space stations, eat, sleep, cut their hair and deal with zero gravity. This part was one of my daughter’s favourite section by far. She loved playing with her little astronaut friend in space.
In the solar system section, children can learn about the planets, their distance to the sun, their size, how long they spin around themselves and how many years the planets take to orbit the sun. They can understand where earth and the moon fit in the solar system and learn about the sun too.
Last but not least, the universe section is interesting as it goes through the history of scientists, astronauts, animals in space and how old the universe it.
We cannot fault the app really, you can tell that the creators of this app spent a great deal of time thinking about an easy way to navigate, some great graphics and fun facts about science. The only tiny thing is that some parts of the app have a lot of text some of which isn’t narrated!
Overall, we love this beautifully illustrated, nicely narrated, fun and educational app! Mums and dads can learn a thing or two about space and the universe using this app. The app is very easy to use and kids can go click happy through each section all while learning a great deal about science.
Catherine is a mother of a little miss almost 3 years old. Originally from France she now lives in Melbourne, Australia. She loves to explore their beautiful city with her daughter and sharing their adventures with other parents. Catherine has a passion for social media, blogging, technology and food. Before the arrival of her daughter, Catherine was studying and working in the field of IT and still loves all things tech! She loves finding new apps for her daughter to learn and play with and share great apps with other parents.
Intuitive, easy to navigate interface
Ease of editing and adding content
Tele-prompt: ability to provide suggestions remotely
Tele-text: ability to send messages to another device like texting
Variety of voices, rates, and pitch
What we’d love to see…
More persona icon options (to be available with new updates)
Expanded pre-programmed options in Quick Chat and EZ phrases
A guided tutorial to help familiarize users with location of key words could be helpful
. The app provides meaningful organization for different language levels as well as multiple communication approaches for increased efficiency across different speaking situations and settings. The format is user-friendly and intuitive and the content is extremely easy to edit and customize.
Total Talk is an excellent AAC app designed for easy and efficient communication by nonverbal users. The app was developed by Ellenson Integration Enterprises, Inc. A quick start guide makes it easy to begin using the app and the complete user manual provides a more thorough overview of the app.
The home page is organized with a message output area at the top, a dock or menu on the left side of the screen and the main grid with word buttons and folders (default is 6×6). The main grid gives access to several commonly used words (yes/no, I, you, want) and folders which are organized by category (i.e. people, verbs, activities, places, things, questions). Any words selected will appear in the message output box and can be verbalized by pressing on the box or the “speak” button in the dock.
The dock is accessible on the side of the screen. This menu has helpful buttons such as “home”, “speak”, “spell”, and “quick chat”. These features allow for more efficient communication and editing. For example, “quick chat” opens 14 commonly used phrases such as greetings, protesting, requesting, and commenting for fast selection. There are also “quick chat topics” which are organized into folders such as people, food, emotions, and questions.
One of the most unique features of the dock is the “magic” button. Selecting “magic” initially changes the menu to allow access to “settings”, “output”, “edit readout” and “quick chat topics”. The “magic” button also unleashes additional functionality to whatever button is pressed next. For example, pressing “magic” prior to a verb will offer a different grid with predicted phrases and conjugations of that verb. For “want”, the new grid options include pronoun buttons, “want”, “wants”, “wanted” and other conjugations such as present progressive, negatives, and past tense.
The “total talk” button allows access to the 10 different communication modes. These include EZ phrases, favorite lists, stories, jokes, and photos. EZ phrases include several folders with common categories or situations that many children encounter daily at school or home such as “homework”, “games” or “bedtime”. Under the “shopping” folder, there are several related phrases such as “I want to pick”, “How much?”, “I want everything!” and “No fair”. The app can be customized with personalized photos for sharing personal experiences. There is a nice step-by-step tutorial for adding photographs in the “make an album” folder.
I particularly like the “jokes” folder which allows the user to tell a pre-programmed joke. After choosing the joke set-up, the user can deliver the punchline complete with rim shot and laugh track. Once a new folder or screen is opened, there is the option to keep it open rather than closing automatically. By clicking on “stay open”, the current page will remain accessible thus eliminating the need to press several buttons to get back to the same screen. Therefore, a joke or story can be told without missing a beat.
The “spell” button accesses the tablet’s keyboard so words can be typed out manually. Word prediction facilitates the typing process for increased efficiency of communication. This app truly grows with the user. When the user is ready, he can transition over to using the keyboard for output while still having access to the symbols.
As with most AAC apps, there are highly customizable settings for editing page lay-out, buttons, icons, and folders. The main page defaults to a 6×6 grid, but can be changed to a 9×7 or 5×4 grid depending on the user’s communication level or visual limitations. The icons are colorful drawings depicting the vocabulary concept on the button. The buttons are color coded by parts of speech (i.e. verbs are pink, nouns are yellow, etc).
As always, these folders and buttons can be easily edited according to the child’s needs and interests. Under settings, you can adjust the format of the screen (number of buttons per page from 20-63), size of text, color coding, and prediction settings.
Voices and persona icons can be edited. You can choose from male or female and then from child, teen or adult voices. In addition, pitch and rate of the voice can also be customized over 5 levels from very low and slow up to very high pitch and fast. There are currently only two persona icons offered: either a boy or girl in a wheelchair, but other options will be made available in future updates.
One of aspects of verbal communication that is often lost when using a speech generating device is prosody or the intonation of speech. This app compensates for this by offering options to change the output such as “whisper”, “excited”, “bored”, or “weird”. So now the user can actually use a bored voice when asking “Are we done yet?” In addition, there is the option to stop the message output by gently hitting the device with an open palm or fist. This gives the user the ability to silence the device if the wrong message was selected in error.
Another unique feature is the ability to have two conversations at once. With the “side talk on”, the user can toggle back and forth between a conversation and a written report they may be working on. This flexibility will allow opportunities for the user to ask questions about an assignment while they are simultaneously working on it. It also lets them converse with two communication partners at once which is more like real life.
Another unique feature is the ability to minimize the grid to allow for writing notes, emails, or longer school papers or reports. These written compositions can then be saved to a button in order to print off later. This component would be a wonderful resource when completing homework or writing reports.
One of the most challenging obstacles of introducing a new AAC device to a child is becoming oriented with the location of all the buttons and teaching them how to use the device to communicate effectively. The innovative Tele-prompt feature makes this task a little less daunting. By downloading the free Orbit app, the teacher or parent can remotely access the user’s screen from their own iPhone or tablet. The teacher can offer suggestions in real-time by drawing on their device which is paired with the student’s. The prompts magically appear on the user’s screen much in the same way a coach would highlight plays for his team. This allows for unobtrusive hands-free prompting by allowing highlighting of buttons to make suggestions for word choice selection. What a great way to promote independence.
The Tele-text is another resourceful feature which allows messages to be sent directly to another phone or device. This is helpful when the environment is too noisy to hear the verbal output or to allow for more privacy for personal messages. Now communication can still occur without the background noise interfering.
The features of this app are very well thought out. The app provides meaningful organization for different language levels as well as multiple communication approaches for increased efficiency across different speaking situations and settings. The format is user-friendly and intuitive and the content is extremely easy to edit and customize. Combined with several unique and groundbreaking features, this AAC app is truly a remarkable way to give a voice to non-verbal users. I would highly recommend it particularly for use in a school setting.
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Shari is a married mother of four from Illinois. She works as a speech pathologist in a rehab setting and loves to use apps in therapy. She is a self-proclaimed “Appaholic”- always on the look out for great apps!
By Lois Jean Brady, SLP. First published on her blog Proactive Speech, January, 2014
What app should I use? This is a common question form family member(s), teachers and therapists trying to answer the question, “what are the best apps to fit with the individual needs of their child or student?” Unfortunately there is no one answer, every person is an individual with a unique interests and learning style.
There is an overwhelming flood of information, in the media today. Feature matching is an effective tool to assess the usefulness of a particular app based on characteristics of the user. By matching features available in an app with the user, their environment and abilities prior to purchasing that app you maximize the probability of a good fit. This allows you conserve your time and money and increases the effectiveness of your iPad as a learning tool. Download The Quick Feature Matching Checklist
As technology continues to progress and morph, so must our ability to gauge the suitability of this technology for our children and students. To this end, the Quick Feature Matching Checklist has been updated to include the features; animation, photo personalization and remote prompting.
By using the newly updated Feature Matching Checklist you can effectually wade through the plethora of choices to find the most suitable app(s) for your child’s needs.
Animations / Actions
Apps that contain animations or incorporate videos are becoming very popular for teaching language concepts, verbs, social skills, tasks, etc. They not only let the student see a model of the activity but are engaging eliciting increased focus and attention. Apps such as InnerVoice AAC, Noodle Words, WordToob, VAST Pre-Speech and First Phrases harness the power of action and go beyond flashcards to teach communication and important life skills.
The ability to personalize an app by adding a photo of yourself or your favorite character increases the “fun factor” and buy-in of any educational material. StoryBots, InnerVoice AAC, Toca Boca and others are taking the iPad to a whole new level for learning and communication. Look for photo personalization if you want to tap into the power of edutainment (educate + entertain). Research indicates that when communication is fun, people communicate more.
Remote prompting is a new approach to teaching communicative independence, using iDevices (iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch). This technique allows learners to receive a prompt on their iDevice that guides them to the correct response. Using InnerVoice AAC, prompts are sent via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth from the educator’s device to the user’s iPad to ensure the child will perform the correct skill and reduce the probability of errors and frustration. Remote Prompting reduces confusing verbal explanations that interfere with the communicative intent or message.
Data / Tracking
If you are an educator or therapist, then data/tracking student progress is not only important but a huge time saving option. Many educational apps not allow the user to collect and save data for a single or multiple students as well as take notes. Check data tracking features prior to buying to help increase your efficiency. Parents can also monitor progress on goals at home.
The proper fit for voice output can support the acquisition of both language and speech. Research has shown that students on the spectrum prefer synthesized voice output over the human voice. Also, students with auditory processing challenges may respond better to high quality synthesized voices. However, not all students have the same preferences or respond to voice output in the same manner. It is highly desirable feature to have a choice of both synthesized and digitized voice for those apps that have an auditory output component.
Having the ability to add personalized pictures and content to any app is highly motivating for the student on the spectrum. Having the convenience of customization features within the app can save time and allow the user to create individual lessons/communication boards on the fly.
Adjustable difficulty levels reduces frustration when a task to too challenging and allows a student to move up levels as they master concepts.
Does your student recognize icons or symbols or are real pictures preferred? Some apps give the user a choice of real pictures or choose from a library of icons/symbols.
Sounds & visuals can be motivating or distracting to a child trying to complete a task. Having the choice to turn them on/off without leaving the app is a feature that makes using the iPad a seamless educational tool.
Whether you are self-monitoring or being monitored by a parent/educator, having the ability to track progress can facilitate success.
Share / Email
Being able to share student work and accomplishments with others is my favorite feature. Parents may want to share a memory book with family, therapists may want to share student progress with other educators and individuals may want to share thoughts/ideas with friends via social networking.
Know what fine motor skills an app requires prior to purchase. What are your child’s/student’s motor abilities? Do they have the ability to interact with a particular app, are they working on motor skills within the app or do they enjoy lots of tactile interactions.
The price category is for reference only. Price should not be a feature to consider when determining if an app is a good fit for a child or student.
Educational materials usually have a high cost. The introduction of the iPad and apps has significantly reduced the price of communicating and learning. A pack of flashcards, board game or workbook can cost from $9.99 to $ 89.99. I am happy to pay $0.99 to $49.99 for materials I can use over and over with high motivation, attention and interaction.
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